[Trollbabe] Making the Trollbabes

Started by Bret Gillan, November 18, 2008, 09:59:04 AM

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Bret Gillan

I met with my two players for our first session of Trollbabe. Ellen, my girlfriend, and my friend Chris who just moved to area volunteered for a Sunday night game. Initially it was just going to be Ellen and the game selection went like this:

Me: We could play In a Wicked Age, InSpectres, Sorcerer, Trollbabe...
Ellen: What's Trollbabe?

That was pretty much the point I knew we had a winner. Chris jumped in after he and I went out for pizza over the weekend and I told him about the game.

Ellen was super-sick so I adapted my plan of make characters and play a quick adventure to just making characters and then show Chris the Left 4 Dead demo on my computer while Ellen went to sleep. Character creation for Trollbabe is simple and straightforward, but here's the bit I want to talk about.

We got to Social specialities. The choices were, and I might be forgetting a couple, Fun, Perky, Feisty, Scary, Sexy, Insightful, and maybe one or two more. Ellen did not like the choices. I think they seemed too cutesy or like they "de-clawed" the trollbabe. Chris thought they were funny. I thought kind of briefly about saying, "Okay, just go ahead and make up your own," but I'm also pretty big on sticking to the rules especially on a first run through and as far as I could tell those were the only options. Chris grinned and wrote "Fun" and Ellen grumbled...

... and then picked Perky.

But that mental back and forth that happens when a player grumbles about character creation is a spot I find myself in. Would it have effected the game significantly to let Ellen pick her own adjective? I remember this coming up in games like Shadowrun where there wasn't a skill that fit into what my players wanted. Some games like HeroQuest and Mortal Coil let you go wild with choices like this, but then your run into the alternate problem of "is this skill too broad or too narrow" (though I think Mortal Coil solves this gracefully).

But seriously, Ellen - Perky?

Ron Edwards


I think it was good to enforce choosing from the list, for a couple of reasons. First is that the game isn't a free-form, "my trollbabe has wings!" creative experience; it has fixed features and people need to get used to that. Second is that these Social Specialties are not descriptions of the trollbabe's behavior but rather of demeanor. There's no reason that someone who consistently seems perky has to feel perky or act perky in terms of significant decisions. As far as feeling, speaking, or decisive action is concerned, Ellen can play her trollbabe however she wants, described by any imaginable adjective.

So although the first point seems dictatorial, it only refers to the content at a superficial level.

A couple of points about the current rewrite may be relevant here. I added Fierce and Remote to the list (although I do not recommend re-doing this step for Ellen; she did choose, and I think that's important). Also, all of these terms, for all three Action Types, are renamed Impressions, meaning the impression given by the trollbabe upon first meeting.

Best, Ron


Hmmm...Fierce and Remote...

I'm having interesting thoughts about those. 
See I like them.  I'd like for my Trollbabe to give the Impression of being Fierce or Remote...so much so, that if those options were available I have trouble envisioning choosing anything else but those...which may not be a good thing...

Renaming them as Impressions I think is a great move.

Ron Edwards

No surprise, Ralph! Your very own heavy-metal mad-at-world 'babe factored into my thinking, primarily for Fierce but actually for both. I also made up another example character (two actually, in addition to Retta and Tha)* for whom none of the descriptors fit, and yet I desperately wanted to play her as my character. I finally hit upon the right word.

Best, Ron

* Both of whom I was considering retiring for the finished version, but then I realized that neither my unconscious nor the majority of customers would forgive me.